Friday, 31 July 2015

Wind and rain didn't spoil the fun at Camp Celtic Myths!

Over 130 girls from the North-East Region, and 9 Girl Scouts from America, enjoyed camping in Loughcrew, Co. Meath 15-19 July. Despite the bad weather a great time was had by all!
The theme was Camp Celtic Myths with three sub-camps called Queen Maebh and the Bull of Cooley, Grainne Mhoal and Deirdre of the Sorrows.

The first day was for Leaders (their own children) and Senior Branchers to set up the marquees etc. and to welcome the Girl Scouts from America. The Senior Branchers and Girl Scouts shared songs, stories and American folklore in the teepee tent on the first night; friendships were made from the get go.

The next day the Girl Scouts went off to Causey Farm for some traditional Irish cultural activities. The Guides arrived, pitched their tents, enjoyed some icebreaker games and learned all about what was in store for them. They were put into patrols and had the chance to get to know Guides from other units, especially ones that they would be spending time with during camp. There would be the chance to take part in Loughcrew's Got Talent on the last night and we would have time to practice during camp. Activities included First Aid, fun practical challenges, a heritage walk and a scavenger hunt. By the evening, the rain had set in, so after dinner and all camp jobs completed, the Guides decided to go into their cosy tents and chat about their plans for their performances. 

The next day was still showers and winds, but that didn't daunt anyone: there was too much to enjoy, like the Loughcrew Adventure Centre obstacle course and zip wire, warrior dance workshops and warrior craft, making scarves and props for warrior outfits. I got soaked but I didn’t care, the rain would soon wash it off!

In the evening the weather dried up, the sun came out and the four workshops came together for a dance off. Inspired, the Leaders also had a go, much to the delight and embarrassment of some of the Guides! It was brilliant fun! This was followed by a lovely campfire, where we learnt some American campfire songs and taught our American visitors some of ours. The campfire ended with the exchanging of gifts and badges or 'patches' as they call them. It was a special night that will be in our memories forever.

Saturday morning it was time for our visitors to travel on to Lorne, so after pancakes for breakfast, we sang Go Well and Safely and waved them goodbye with a few tears. We were soon perked up again when it came time for activities: we were treated to a visit to Loughcrew Cairns with a tour guide showing us inside the tombs! We learnt how to write our names in Ogham writing and how trees were so important in ancient times. We got to make a catapult gadget which could be used in combat; obviously ours was used for fun, but it has huge potential for a water-based game (haha)!
The evening was dry and the sun was out and we enjoyed dinner outside in a traditional horseshoe. 

We were delighted to be joined by our Regional Commissioner Elizabeth Lynch. She is also OA and was testing JoAnne our Leader for her QM qualification. Dinner was delicious so we knew JoAnne would pass.
In the evening we went into the church ruins; the church was once owned by St Oliver Plunkett. It was lovely but had no roof, but that was OK as it wasn't raining at that point. The Salmon of Knowledge Quiz was fun; questions were called out and everyone put up their hand if they knew the answer, and spot prizes were given out. It was then time for the Loughcrew's Got Talent: 11 acts took part - not everyone wanted to, but that was OK. There were songs as a group and a soloist, dance, and even a martial arts demonstration! The unanimous winners did a short play which really captured what Guiding is all about: everyone agreed they were the best! It was getting dark and we had beautiful tea lights in the windows and a campfire to keep us warm. With there being so many of us, the Senior Branchers cooked us gorgeous ‘smores and passed them around. Yummy! Then it was back to sub-camp for hot chocolate and bed.

Sunday morning the wind had dropped, the rain had stopped and it was time to pack up. After getting dressed and packed up we had a leisurely breakfast together before 'striking' the tents. We had to wipe them all down, so they were dry being put away. We all worked together and helped the Leaders packing away all the equipment in their cars and trailers. The marquee was the hardest to get down, but by working together we soon got it done.

Once everything was packed up, the whole camp gathered together on the hill overlooking camp. The Senior Branchers read out some lovely stuff about friendship for Guides Own. I have made some lovely friends through Guides and from other units. It’s great to get together and see them at other events too. We sang This Little Guiding Light of Mine and the Leaders told us how great we were and explained about the hard work that goes into camp and that it is very worthwhile to see everyone enjoying themselves in spite of the weather. The weather for camp had been a bit wet and windy but it hadn’t been too bad! It was nice to see the Leaders get presents for all their hard work and we were so proud when our Leader was given her CO for organising the camp. She works really hard all the time, she teaches us loads and is always there with a smile and something funny to say. I love being in Guides and hope I never have to leave. I can’t wait until September!

~ Amy Gorman, Navan Girl Guides

Monday, 27 July 2015

‘Every second was fast-paced and exciting, a true adventure’

My name is Róisín Neville and I am a 16-year-old Guide from Cork. I saw a tall ship voyage advertised in Trefoil News and I thought it sounded exciting and that it would be a unique experience.

I had some experience with dinghy sailing but I had never been on a tall ship before. The voyage was on the Dutch vessel, the Morgenster, and it was from 14th to 26th June. We sailed from Dublin and disembarked at Bangor in Northern Ireland. We visited Scotland and the Isle of Man and we ported at the Irish Maritime Festival in Drogheda for two nights. 

I didn’t know any of the other 25 trainees before I came on the ship and I was a bit nervous before I went. As soon as I arrived I knew that I would be fine as everyone was so friendly and we were literally 'all in the same boat!' Many of the other trainees were Scouts, so hopefully I will meet them at camps soon. 

The voyage itself was incredible. Every second was fast-paced and exciting, a true adventure. I learned many new skills, sailing and otherwise. We were trained by the incredible crew to sail the beautiful tall ship.

The highlight for me was on the last night when we all performed songs and stories about the trip. I made a video about the voyage, which you can see here.

I would definitely love to go on another voyage and I think I will apply for the tall ship races next year. 

I have been a member of IGG for five years. I have been a Patrol Leader and I am now on my way to becoming a Young Leader in my Unit, Arbutus. I absolutely love going to Guides every week. I have gained confidence, skills and lifelong friends from my years in Guides. My favourite parts of Guides are teaching the younger Guides about gender equality and going on camps, being close to nature.

I think it’s great to see girls being themselves in a supportive, happy environment. I would definitely recommend girls and young women to join IGG and become part of the great sisterhood of Guiding.

~ Róisín Neville, Arbutus Guides, Cork

Friday, 24 July 2015

Dunshaughlin Brownies visit the Áras!

Dunshaughlin Brownies were thrilled to receive an invite to Áras an Uachtaráin recently. Here Anne O'Brien, one of their Leaders, writes about the visit: 

"We were delighted and honoured to be invited to Áras an Uachtaráin on 13th July to take part in the state visit of President H.E. Joachim Gauck of Germany to Ireland.  Our role on the day was to form part of the guard of honour as flag bearers as President Higgins formally welcomed President Gauck. Following the welcome ceremony, our 40 girls watched as President
Higgins invited President Gauck to plant an oak tree in the gardens of Áras an Uachtaráin.

"It was an amazing experience to witness the ceremony of a state visit, which included a 21-cannon salute and a four jet fly-over.  We were thrilled when President Gauck took some time out to talk to the Brownies and shake their hands. 

"Our visit ended with a group photograph of President Higgins, his wife Sabina and our Unit, which was a perfect ending to a perfect day."

Unit Leader Christine Daly said it was "a fab day - a really big event". She said the team that took care of them were "so nice" and made everyone feel at home.

Grace, one of the Brownies who took part in the visit, said it was "very special" to see the German President planting the tree in the Áras garden and that she loved "Mrs D's shoes"!